Heteromeles arbutifolia, Toyon, California-holly, Christmasberry

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Toyon, California-holly, Christmasberry
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: Southern California to Baja California and Oregon
USDA Zone: 7-11?
USDA Plant Hardiness MapLarge shrub 5-10 ft tallSmall tree 10-20 ftSemi-shadeFull sunRegular waterWhite, off-white flowersPoisonous or toxicPlant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds

Toyon's huge clusters of bright red berries remain on the tree throughout the winter. It is drought tolerant after the first few years, but tolerates some water if drainage is good. Fire resistant if watered a little every two weeks during spring and summer. It likes full sun, tolerates full shade. Tolerates serpentine soils. The berries are edible but poisonous if eaten in large quantities since they contain cyanide compounds. Indigenous peoples have crushed the berries into a cider or roasted them in baskets with hot pebbles or wood coals. Many birds relish these berries and depend on them as a food resource.

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